Same Yet Different: What Europe Can Teach North America About The Hygge Lifestyle

Part 1:

Lighting Beyond Function

3 ways Europeans have enhanced the lighting experience

Chic interiors, cutting edge technology, and modular designs; Ambiente was all that and so much more! The world class trade show sported a whopping 4,400 exhibitors in 12 connected buildings that dwarf the metro convention centre in Toronto; it truly seemed larger than life. However, beyond all the glitz and glam, there was also a lot to learn from this spectacular event.  We all lead busy lives, so we decided to break this blog topic into 3 bite sized posts. Today’s post is going to focus on one of the most important elements of a hygge space, lighting, and the 3 ways Europeans have to enhanced the lighting experience.

 

For those of you who are diving head first into our blog, but aren’t quite sure what hygge is, we encourage you to read our first blog entry “What is Hygge?”. Pressed for time? Here is a quick recap! Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is comprised of two elements: the atmosphere and the experience. It’s simple in theory and yet so diverse in it’s application. At its essence, hygge is a feeling. Lighting is one of the key ways we can create the atmosphere and experience we desire. Now that you are all hygge experts, let’s jump right in!

Lighting from the Museum of Art & Design, Copenhagen.jpg
 
 

As you all know, in North America, when you buy or rent a property the space already comes with light fixtures; this is not the case in Europe. What is often an afterthought for us is a major priority for them. This is why they have perfected every aspect of the lighting experience, while keeping the process quite affordable. Let’s take a closer look.

 

bright ideas

In theme with creating energy-conscious products and materials, the majority of the light bulbs at Ambiente were LED bulbs designed to focus on both atmosphere and design. Candle, Edison, globe, tubular; every style of bulb you can imagine could be found at this trade show.

In addition to the beautiful glass work of the light bulbs, the filaments (which emit the light in a light bulb) have also become a focal point in the European lighting experience; truly no element was left behind. Filament design provides a unique way for you personalize your space at a low cost.  Spirals, abstract shapes, filaments in the shape of words and so much more were on display. Needless to say, we were awestruck by all the possibilities.

While it is not uncommon to find commercial spaces with specialty bulbs in North America, it is rare to find specialty bulbs in private spaces. We also noticed that, in cyclical fashion, smoked glass is making a comeback! Don’t be surprised if the majority of the decorative lighting in your local interior decor stores make a shift to smoked glass in the next 3 to 5 years. Much to our surprise, the lighting experience was not limited to the light bulbs, now you can get creative with the cables as well!

The lighting cable can create angular designs and set the ambience of the room.

The lighting cable can create angular designs and set the ambience of the room.

It’s a lighting wonderland! Flashy cloth cords, beautifully shaped LED bulbs, metallic pendants and yes, magnetic light fixtures!

It’s a lighting wonderland! Flashy cloth cords, beautifully shaped LED bulbs, metallic pendants and yes, magnetic light fixtures!

 

Twist, stripes and everything nice!

Customizable cables was another lighting trend to appear at Ambiente, allowing you to have full lighting customization. That’s right, now you can mix and match components until you create your desired effect! This presents a unique opportunity to really make every element shine, including the most neglected of elements such as the power cable.

We saw lighting cables in every colour, metallic finish, and fibre type under the sun and you can purchase them by the meter. Cables are available in cloth, twists, glitter, rayon and the list goes on. But here is where things get interesting; by treating the cable as a major design element this allows you to make the cable the focal point in a room, or help create a custom lighting solution that becomes a major design element in your space. Also, by using removable wall fixtures, you can now create your own light that can be plugged into a wall socket at a fraction of the price.

While the re-imagination of the bulb and cable for personal spaces is quite exciting, the fun doesn’t stop there.

 

“this isn’t even my final form” - Frieza

 

Modular lighting is similar to the customization mentioned earlier, but allows one to integrate it into their furniture in new and exciting ways. Depending on your needs, you can use a similar lamp shade on a table lamp, a hanging pendant, and with new designs being made, and in one company’s design, you can even attach lights to your couch! This idea of modular lighting has been done for years already, most notably by IKEA, where you can mix and match your lighting components to meet your lighting and design needs.

However, if you aren’t fond of the other non-lighting products IKEA produces then this feature would not be of much interest. Most of the companies exploring this avenue were much smaller than IKEA, which poses many limitations on how far you can push these modular features. That being said, it appears to be a concept in its infancy that deserved a mention. The ability to transform your lighting to meet your needs presents infinite possibilities for your cultivated space. Different lighting effects based on your mood or perhaps the season are now possible and the process has been made both easy and affordable

Same lights connected to different bases and furniture.

Same lights connected to different bases and furniture.

The same light shade can be connected to your ceiling, floor lamp stand, table stand and wall.

The same light shade can be connected to your ceiling, floor lamp stand, table stand and wall.

 

After you finish reading this blog post I want you to sit for a moment and close your eyes. I want you to image your favourite lamp. Maybe your favourite lamp is a little table lamp, with a black metal base and a teal pine cone shaped lamp shade, it has a black cable that reaches down to the floor. I want you to imagine your own of course, but this is my favourite lamp. Now imagine that lamp after you have repainted the room it sits in and it doesn’t match the way it once did. Instead of selling the lamp, you remove the top half and repurpose it elsewhere in your home - perhaps to your day bed in your office for your morning reading or perhaps attach it to a tall craned floor stand in room that doesn’t have a ceiling light fixture.You don’t have to go out and find a new lamp, going through endless premade, not-quite-right but ‘good enough’ lamps with that extra long power cord or different coloured base.

All the elements of the traditional light fixture are being expanded upon in very exciting ways. Now you can achieve the ambience and aesthetic you desire at a fraction of the cost and with staggering results. Hopefully the next time you go shopping for a light bulb or fixture you will be able to delve a little deeper into the world of decorative lighting. While the trends and products you have seen throughout this blog post may be hard to find in North America, we hope to address this challenge in the near future. So stay tuned and have a hygglig week!

 
Lindsay CatoLight
Verdun in Europe: What We Learned at the Ambiente, the Dining, Giving, and Living Trade Show in Europe

Verdun owners members (and frequent models) Kevin and Lindsay on the banks of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Dear readers! It has been some time since we updated our blog, but the team at Verdun HQ has been hard at work to do our best to bring Canadian hygge to you, fellow Canadians! In early February, we traveled to Europe to soak up a bit of European charm, some hygge from its homeland, and to the attend the Ambiente 2019 trade show, one of the largest gifting, living, and design trade shows in the world.

Ambiente was an impressively large event, filling up 12 of the buildings (some with multiple levels and halls!) at the Frankfurt Messe (Fair). The sheer size of the event was intimidating at times, with thousands and thousands of vendors and visitors alike. Booths were larger than life, with the biggest vendors often having a small cafe and bar within their space, offering potential customers a coffee or prosecco to ease deal making and networking along. Vendors pulled out all the stops, creating beautiful little (or large) pockets for people to experience their company’s offerings.

For Verdun, we were looking specifically for some items that we can bring to the Canadian market to help Canadians experience true hygge in their homes. We looked at furniture, lighting, and textiles. Some new and upcoming trends of note included a focus on lightbulbs as a design element and not just a light source, and using recycled plastic to create new textiles, including throws, pillows, and rugs.  

As a result of this experience, we distilled some of our thoughts on both hygge products and designs, as well as the hygge lifestyle, and how it is lived every day in Europe. So, for the following 3 weeks, we will be publishing a series of posts titled: Same Yet Different - What Europe Can Teach North America About the Hygge Lifestyle.

Stay posted, as we will release these posts every two weeks! To keep in touch with us and to find out when we post, please sign up to our e-mail list at the bottom of this page! Subscribers always get a little hygge tip, and special offers to our store. We look forward to sharing our newfound knowledge and inspiration with you all!

Do you have any home design and hygge tips you’ve gained while traveling the globe? Share them in the comment section below - we would love to hear from you!

How to Use Your Merino Wool Throw - The Ultimate Cozy Comfort

You may have seen the jumbo knit throws around for some time now, gushed at them, and then thought to yourself: but how would I use this?! Well rest assured, there are many ways you can add luxury to your day to day life with this throw. Here are the 4 main ways that we use them in our day-to-day life!


Coffee, a book and a jumbo throw - the perfect start to a weekend.

1) Keeping warm and cozy during dedicated relaxation time

This first use is the classic no-brainer way to use these throws. Especially as the winter comes along, many of us experience drafty windows, making it chilly to stay put in one spot (ie. the couch) for long periods of time. This is completely counterproductive for a winter TV and movie marathon! The throws are so thick and warm that they will keep you toasty despite any temperature drops or drafts in your home. Cozy up under over 2kg of 100% super fine merino wool, and you simply will not notice the cold any more. The only downside to this way to use our throws, is that people are prone to napping once cozy and under them. However, afternoon napping on the couch is a favourite past time for most Canadians, making this a truly Canadian Hygge activity! Besides, that is what the rewind button is for!

Cold toes are simply not an option when a throw with this weight is covering them all night long.

2) At the foot of your bed to keep your toes toasty all night long

I think it is universally accepted that one sleeps better when the room is cold, and the bed is layered with blankets to create the best, most snuggly, warm sleeping cave. If you drop the temperature at night in your home, and like bundling up the duvets and sheets on your bed, but still struggle keeping your toes toasty - we have your solution. Our super chunky throws are perfect to lay across the foot of your bed, and retain the heat so well, your feet will never complain again. Also, the weight of the throws are a very comfortable weight on your legs. A perfect end to a long day on your feet! Fair warning, getting up in the morning is slightly more difficult when faced with such ultimate sleeping comforts.

In front of a lit fire place, laying on the floor… A wonderful napping spot for th e

In front of a lit fire place, laying on the floor… A wonderful napping spot for th e

3) A large cushion on a cold, hard floor

Imagine this: in a house full of friends and family, all the seating gets taken. Your beautiful hardwood floors are just that - beautiful - but not warm and comfortable. Using the throw as a cushion on the floor is an effective yet less obvious use for the throws. The thickness and density of the throw lend it beautifully to acting as a soft and forgiving barrier between yourself and the floor. This is especially cozy when placed in front of a lit fireplace. Again, fair warning, this is a very nappable situation!

A throw on a chair is the perfect addition to your Hyggekrog - a cozy, Hygge-filled corner in your home. It is also a sure-fire way to draw the eye’s attention.

4) Design element in your curated room

The last way that we use our throws is as a key design element in our rooms. Between the huge knit stitches and the neutral and accent colours offered in the store, the jumbo knit throws draw the eye one way or the other. The are an excellent accessory to pull together a cohesive look in any room. The knit style makes it an instant classic, while the size of it makes it very modern. Ultimately, it is a win-win. As an added bonus, these throws are always - always! - a conversation starter. And sometimes a bit of envy!


We’re sure you will find your own way to live in luxury with a jumbo wool throw. If it’s really not your thing - we’ve got you covered. Our 100% virgin wool woven throws make an excellent day-to-day companion for all of your bundling, cozying-up needs.



A book, a mug of tea, a cozy throw. This is true comfort!

A book, a mug of tea, a cozy throw. This is true comfort!

How to Light Your Home in Winter - 3 Tools to Make Your Space More Hygge

Although it is only early November, the days already seem to be shortening at a rapid pace. All across Canada, we are facing a gradual decrease in natural light, due to both shorter possible daylight hours and the gloomy, overcast weather that often comes with autumn. We always know it is coming, yet somehow always catches us off guard! This is why Canadians need to consider how to light their homes. Especially to create the ideal Hygge atmosphere, there are several tips and tricks for how you can fill your home with a warm glow during the dark months.


The shortest day of the year is the Winter Solstice, on December 21. However, most of us are already feeling the effects of the loss of light. This means it will only get worse as we get closer and closer to the Solstice. For most Canadian cities, there is under 9 hours between sunrise and sunset - this is the equivalent of the sun rising at 8 and setting at 6. In our Northern cities, this can drop drastically. Iqaluit experiences only 4 hours and 20 minutes between sunrise and sunset on this day! This combined with the colder weather will drive most of us into the comfort of our homes. Strategic lighting in your home can help you create a comforting, cozy, and warm atmosphere for our partial winter hibernation.


Lighting and candles can also be decorative elements, and placed to help frame things - like books! But not too close to the candles, of course.

Light is something we take for granted in the developed world. It is one of those things we don’t think about much, until we don’t have access to it. The ability to flip a switch and illuminate the immediate space around you has had some interesting effects on the world. A recent podcast by Planet Money (titled “The History of Light”)  brilliantly discussed the economics of light, and how the gradual discovery of cheap light has changed the world. Today, we have the ability not just to have easy, cheap access to light, but we have choices as to how we light a room. As mentioned in “The Little Book of Hygge” by Meik Wiking, light can be used to create the Hygge atmosphere most of us crave for providing comfort during the winter months.

There are three main components to Hygge-lich lighting:

  1. Warm light bulbs

  2. Light-diffusing lamps

  3. Fire


In your home, lighting can create the feeling in a room, and there are two sources of light: electric and fire-based. Electric lighting is surrounding us, in all of our rooms. The warmth of a lightbulb can greatly affect how a room feels, as well as the location of the light source. Having multiple, smaller sources of light help create a more subdued, glow-like effect that can be very calming.

The 3 types of lightbulbs we can buy: incandescent, fluorescent, and LED. Light bulb temperature is measured by Kelvins (K). The lower the K value, the warmer the light, with fluorescent bulbs can be up to 5000K, and a flame producing closer to 1500K.

Softer yellow light is often far more calming than the harsh blue light from fluorescent bulbs. Thankfully, the advances in light bulb technology has produced LED lights that can create this soft glow, while also consuming less energy. For those who are energy conscious, this is a wonderful change from the compact fluorescents that were commonly used in the last 15 years, replacing incandescent light bulbs. Using coloured pendants and tinted ceiling light covers can help soften your lightbulb light, and disperse the light in the room. Stringed lights are great to create a dispersed light source, and also now come in energy-saving LED varieties. Lastly, the use of lamps with warm lamp shades can help create the mood of a room, with light coming from a specific direction in the room, rather than shining overhead. The use and strategic placement of lamps are important for those who live in older houses, where overhead lights are not wired into the home.

Our small lamp on top of the records shelf helps reflect light against the ceiling, creating a glow in the room. The use of a yellow-tinted shade helps diffuse warmer light into the room. And lights up a super cool picture of my Dad during his wedding day in the 80’s! That perm!

Our small lamp on top of the records shelf helps reflect light against the ceiling, creating a glow in the room. The use of a yellow-tinted shade helps diffuse warmer light into the room. And lights up a super cool picture of my Dad during his wedding day in the 80’s! That perm!

Verdun candle votives generate a beautiful, starry pattern when lit from inside, but are also a stylish, gold accent for every day.

Lastly, we can enjoy the glow that comes from fire, in the form of candles, and a fireplace if your home has it, and it’s cold enough to justify it. Candles have the added benefit of creating a sense of calm and comfort, and votives can add an accent colour and create mesmerizing shapes of light. There is something about fire that intrinsically draws humans to it, perhaps because it remains such an important tool in our world. While scented candles may be all the rage at the moment, use plain, unscented candles when you want to have more than 1 candle at a time. If you love scented candles, supplement your collection with unscented ones, and pick 1 scented candle to burn at a time - this prevents an overwhelming and confusing scent in your room while maintaining that calming glow from multiple spots.


Light is so important to us, now that many of us work indoors, and with the seasonally shorter days. Play around with where you place lamps and candles to achieve the best light dispersion in your space. And when you feel like you haven’t seen the sun in weeks, don’t let it get you down, just cozy up at home, and create your glowy, Hygge-filled, happy space.



At the end of the day, there’s really nothing like a lit fireplace on a cold night.

What is Verdun? The Art of Canadian Hygge

Hello! Bonjour!

As I write this, I am cozy in my bed, sipping my morning coffee and watching the sun rising and lighting up the tree tops outside the window. While I had been meaning to write this (first ever!) blog post for Verdun for some time now, I realized that this quiet moment I was holding for myself was exactly the right inspiration I had been looking for. And so here I am, working in bed (a no-no to many people, I’m sure), writing what Canadian Hygge, the Art of Verdun, means to me. I hope it can resonate with you too, fellow Canadian, as we enter the season our great country is perhaps best known for - Winter.

Oh Google…how you miss the nuances in this word!

Oh Google…how you miss the nuances in this word!

If you have made your way to this page, it is likely out of a curiosity, or a wondering - What is Canadian Hygge? What is Verdun? If you google Hygge (pronounced “heu-gah”), you will likely first see a big ‘ol google definition of the danish word hygge translated in english to “fun”.



I am here to tell you, cliched or not, that Hygge is so much more. While the word itself is in fact Danish, “fun” is most definitely not how I would describe Hygge, or Verdun. To us at Verdun, Hygge is a way of life. And it is a lifestyle rooted not just in Denmark, but we Canadians have our own version, interpretation, and manifestation of the same concept - but once again, the English language lacks a word to fully describe it for us!


Canadian Hygge, or as we say, the Art of Verdun, is what we call that warm, cozy, comfortable feeling you get inside you when you are in a space that creates the feeling of safety, warmth, and happiness. There are many aspects of what creates this environment. And it is highly personalized to each individual, as the things that make us comfortable and happy differ from person to person. While there are core aspects of a Verdun home - warm, diffused lighting, candles, soft blankets and pillows, curated accent pieces that bring a smile to the face when you see them, coffee and tea (and I mean LOTS of coffee and tea!!) - each cozy home is different. We all find the comfort we need at home to survive the Canadian winters.


Cozy layers and a big squishy touque make the outdoors available all year round.

Contrary to the above paragraph, we think that a unique aspect of Canadian Hygge is that it easily extends to the outdoors. Our country experiences one of the most beautiful changing of the seasons in the autumn, as our trees and bushes change to an amazing spectrum of sunset hues. There is a certain coziness to our fall season, as sweaters and knits reappear to the front of the closet, thick socks and tall boots keep our toes warm, spicy seasonal drinks keep our bellies happy (not exclusive to the infamous pumpkin spice craze), and fuzzy knit accessories protect our fingers and ears from the changing of the elements. This re-introduction to bundling up in the fall and winter are an aspect of Canadian Hygge, one which also allows us to express our own personal style to the outdoor world.



Netflix and knitting… a not-so-surprising hygge combo at Verdun HQ!

Verdun also believes that Canadian Hygge comes from shared experiences, with friends, family, and loved ones. Favourite pastimes the team at Verdun partake in is not limited to Netflix binges, multi-hour long board game sessions, and enjoying a home-cooked meal together at a dining table. These are moments we spend together in good conversation, laughter, and some playful teasing (and lots and lots of puns!! This is an unofficial sport among our group). These memories and moments help create the atmosphere of a space, as it becomes associated with those good feelings of time well spent together.



The Art of Verdun, the lifestyle of Canadian Hygge, is all curated and created in a home that is well lived in. Well used. Well decorated with meaningful accents, lighting, and textiles. A Verdun home is one that is made over time. With purposefully sourced products, Verdun can help you create the space that will remain in your memories for a lifetime, a space that you can retreat to for satisfaction and comfort (whether alone or with friends), and a space that will provide you with the peace and happiness you deserve.

Curate your Verdun home, one filled with Canadian Hygge.

Lindsay CatoComment